British Army on a course of evolution from an industrial age to a digital age force

A soldier from A Coy, The Rifles, is kitted out with SIGRID System which allows commanders to identify a soldier's activity, patterns of behaviour and stress induced anomalies. Photo: CPL Charles Clare - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

The British Army together with industry partners are coming together this month for the Army Warfighting Experiment 2021 (AWE 21) on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire with a view to enhancing future technological training capabilities on the battlefield.

The recently announced Integrated Review has set the British Army on a course of evolution from an industrial age to a digital age force.

An army spokesperson said:

“The future battlefield will be different and therefore we need to employ new and innovative training methods: AI, virtual reality and simulation are just some examples. Our collective training must be ready to support this step change.”

Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey MP visited AWE 21 to see some of the futuristic technology first-hand. Accompanied by senior officers he was able to take a close look at some of the products and experiment with some of the future innovative training solutions being demonstrated.

James Heapey MP, Minister of the Armed Forces, is shown the capability of the Long View Short Wave Infrared System (LVSW) which along soldiers to use augmented realty to view the battlespace with virtual adversaries.

During his stay the Minister got his hands on some of the augmented and virtual reality equipment that soldiers will trial during the experimentation phase.

The Army Warfighting Experiment has been the flagship innovation experimentation programme for the British Army for the past decade, forging relationships with industry and messaging our allies and adversaries that the British Army is looking to the future with cutting-edge technological advances. AWE 21 will offer an insight into what the Army is seeking to create through collaborative relationships with industry academia, allies, and partners.

The series has consistently delivered high quality evidence and insight for the Army and invaluable military feedback to industry. It explores technology suitable for exploitation, it pushes the boundaries of technology and military capability, testing a range of prototype systems by putting them in the hands of the user. Collective Training is the focus of AWE 21 with an aim at informing a change programme in the forthcoming Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP).

Lieutenant General Sir Christopher Tickell, KBE. Deputy Chief of the General Staff:

“AWE 21 seeks to harness technology to prepare for complex future warfare. It has been designed to experiment with and showcase next generation Collective Training Systems (CTS) to inform future Army and wider Defence force development decisions.”

Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 29th Infantry (1/29), US Army demonstrated a breaching method on an Inflatable Urban Training Device. Photo: CPL Charles Clare

The AWE 21 experiment has submitted a number of challenges to industry which will enable transition from conception to practical working technology.

At the experimental stage, a total of 31 products will be showcased over a two-week period with Personnel from a range of British Army units putting these new innovations and technological advances to the test in both real time and simulated assessments.

A vast array of initiatives will be appraised: Live and virtual training aides will include the replication of urban environments and advanced methods of improving the capture and exploitation of data. Wearable technology that captures data from personnel during training cycles will be trialled and the utilisation of mobile large area 3D scanning will also be in evidence.

An army spokesperson said:

“We are widely regarded as the best Army of our size in the world and ours is a model that others reference. AWE 21 will display that The British Army is constantly adapting to meet the challenges ahead rather than those rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror.”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here